Chinese zoo giant panda allegedly fakes pregnancy for food, air conditioning
Image by JaShong King Reuters
A Chinese zoo had plans to broadcast the first worldwide live stream of the birth of a panda ... until zookeepers realized two months into observation that their adult giant panda was allegedly faking her pregnancy.
According to CNN, "Ai Hin, age six, had shown signs of pregnancy, including a change in appetite, moving less and an increase in progestational hormone in July," reports local station Xinhua.
Some pandas have been known to take on pregnancy behaviors to improve their life while in captivity.
Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, explains to Xinhua, "After showing prenatal signs, the 'mothers-to-be' are moved into single rooms with air conditioning and around-the-clock care," reports CNN. "They also receive more buns, fruits and bamboo, so some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life."
The female giant panda is only fertile for three or less days a year. They're also typically opposed to breeding while in captivity, so false pregnancies are actually a fairly common mistake.
"Scientists will closely monitor behavioral and physiological signs but it's often a guessing game," CNN details. "Even if a pregnancy proves genuine, [newborn] pandas have very low survival rates. According to the Chengdu base, only one-third to a half of pandas born in Chinese captivity manage to survive past infancy."
The length of pregnancy for a giant panda spans 80 to 200 days.